The Boy Slaves
This is an excellent book, telling of the adventures of three midshipmen and a much older sailor from a British warship that goes aground off the coast of Africa, well offshore, and sinks with all hands. However these four find themselves afloat on a spar, which they paddle with their hands for several days until they reach the shore of Africa. Shortly after this they are taken prisoner by some Arabs, who intend to take them north to a town where they can be sold as slaves.
The book deals with their adventures as they are driven north to be sold. In those days Arab pirate ships, known as Barbary pirates, and also Algerine pirates, used to capture European vessels and make their white crews and passengers into slaves, demanding ransoms from their families. Even if the ransom was received, the captors usually pretended it hadn't been. The practice had been going on for centuries, and was terminated in 1816 when Admiral Lord Exmouth attacked Algiers, and obtained the release of 1300 white slaves. Following this the French were charged with the responsibility of keeping the Arabs of North Africa in order. The date of 1816 is wrongly given as 1856 on page xi of Guy Pocock's introduction to the Everyman Edition of the book.
REID, Thomas Mayne (1818-83) Irish writer of boys' stories, born in Ballyroney, County Down. In 1840 he emigrated to New Orleans, settled as a journalist in Philadelphia (1843), and served in the US army during the Mexican war (1847), where he was severely wounded. Returning to Britain in 1849, he settled down to a literary life in London. His vigorous style and hairbreadth escapes delighted his readers. Among his books, many of which were popular in translation in Poland and Russia, were The Rifle Rangers (1850), Scalp Hunters (1851), Boy Hunters (1853), War Trail (1851), Boy Tar (1859), and Headless Horseman (1866). He went back to New York in 1867 and founded the Onward Magazine, but returned to England in 1870.
(With acknowledgements to Chambers Biographical Dictionary)
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature mentions that he was the son of a Presbyterian Minister, and that the first two books mentioned above were for a general readership. When he returned to England the publisher Davis Bogue suggested that he should write books specifically for boys, catering for the Christmas market each year. He was a naturalist, and wrote about the creations of Nature, where Ballantyne and Kingston would have been all moralising and pious. He was a great admirer of Byron, and some of his heroes are Byronic in temperament.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Hewlett-Packard scanner, a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner or a Nikkon Coolpix 5700 camera to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used TextBridge Pro 98 or ABBYY Finereader 7 or 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk
The PDF version is constructed from 300 dpi scans. To get best value set "Use Logical Page Numbers" to "ON" in Edit/Preferences/Page Display of your PDF viewer. To obtain the HTML file find the area on the left of this page which has PDF, HTML and TXT in it, and click on HTML. In this version the entire book appears in the one file, which also includes the style-sheet and any pictures, and is written in xhtml. The larger of the two TXT files is what you need to create an audiobook, using for instance Text Aloud MP3. The smaller of the two TXT files contains full instructions for doing so.
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